2016 Community Organisation Award for Multi-Strand
Victory Hants is a ‘Diverse, Active Community Involvement Organisation’ based in Fratton, Portsmouth, oﬀering sporting and leisure opportunities to individuals age 16 and over. Participants may have a previous history of homelessness, mental health issues, learning disabilities, long term unemployment or have suﬀered social isolation due to age, sexual orientation, race or gender. The purpose of the group is to break down barriers within the community by oﬀering participants opportunities to address health and well-being issues that aﬀect their lives. Volunteers at Victory Hants support their participants to partake in local education opportunities, work trials, training or volunteering in order to achieve self-reliant, self-sustainable futures. Described by some as a ‘lifeline’, it is clear that this stunning organisation is having a phenomenal impact on their community.
We caught up with Tina Jacobs from Victory Hants after their win at The National Diversity Awards 2016. They won the Community Organisation Award for multi-strand and here’s what Tina had to say about it…
How did you feel about the other shortlisted nominees within your category?
Oh gosh the other nominees in our category were amazing that’s for sure! It was just so wonderful to all have the chance and the opportunity to come together and celebrate on such a very special night. Brian Cummings attended the awards ceremony along with one of our former participants who was once street homeless, Albert Howarth. Albert is a treasure to our organisation and very highly thought of amongst us all. When he first came to us we managed to relocate him back in his home town of Liverpool and so he was our guest for the evening. The networking at the ceremony whether it be on our table or during the drinks reception was just totally invaluable. We have had such amazing feedback from so many people since the evening and it is all extremely positive! It’s very special for us here in Portsmouth to hear the feedback via different networks on social media and via email as unfortunately there was only Brian who had the opportunity to attend the awards from the office and it gives all of us a sense of pride to know just how highly thought of the award being received by ourselves is.
After winning the award, where is Victory Hants going to go from here, with regards to diversity?
Oh my goodness me, well winning the award just accentuates what we are doing and really highlights the impact that we are making on people’s lives. So, were we arew going from here is of course to continue doing what we are doing and reach as many people as we possibly can. We want to prove that we can all live, work and play together regardless of where we come from. Victory Hants is based around the universal language of sport, mainly football and we have found that this is a great connector of people as anybody can kick a ball whoever we are. We try to portray that there is no barriers such as race or gender or even age, our oldest participant was in his nineties. We unite people by the common interest of sport and football and so with that in mind our organisation is going from strength to strength. Furthermore, there seems to be an awful lot of young people living on the streets we tend to work with the people in the age range of 16 to 60 who really need support and guidance. People may have lost their jobs or lost housing we can offer support and guidance to those people and try and find them new futures. We would love extend our reach even further I order to help more people and we can’t express enough how fantastic and satisfactory it is when you see the difference you have made to an individual’s life.
How is the work you are doing within all strands of diversity making a difference?
We are making a huge difference everywhere, especially down here in Hampshire because we are able to offer people from whatever their backgrounds opportunities. Whether they are homeless or they have mental health problems or disabilities or they come from a different cultural background, we like them to feel that they can come together and find common interests and make social connections and enjoy the time spent together. We ensure this by reaching out to various different isolations within communities and invite them along to join in with the sporting and recreational activities. We have meet up’s twice a week and people come along and play football, they come along and get fit and healthier together as a team and everybody helps each other out to ensure that everybody fulfils their ability to the best it can be. We have had various tournaments and friendly matches across the country and unite with other organisations like ourselves and see it as an enjoyable networking opportunity. We see this as the perfect foundations to build new relationships with organisations and that the social connections bring people together beautifully. For us it is all about giving our participants the opportunity to share experiences and get involved and always feel included as this can make such a huge difference to an individual’s lives. Victory Hants also offers training and educational opportunities for those that come and enjoy our activities and our volunteers offer support to those individuals, some obviously that have had previous experiences in their past maybe at school or in the community’s things haven’t gone too well for them and then with us they find that they can achieve which is such a satisfactory feeling for us at Victory Hants.
Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?
Well without what we are doing people will remain isolated in their communities and the Victory Hants project itself is uniting people right across the country and making people feel included and nit excluded anymore. We feel that when people know there worth they are able to give so much to the community and they begin to find their strengths and believe in themselves. A lot of people have previously joined us and experienced our services and have received the guidance and support themselves, a lot of them have come back and volunteered for us. People are getting fitter and healthier and their futures are looking so much brighter and for us that is just great.
Who or what is the inspiration behind the amazing work that Victory Hants does?
I feel as though the whole team are a phenomenal work force and we are so lucky to be surrounded by such outstanding people every single day coming to work. All of the amazing volunteers do such wonderful things and dedicate so much time and effort to ensure that our participants get the most out of the experience. Of course or us, that is the most important thing. The commitment across the board is unconditional and for that we are so thankful to all of our team. The biggest inspiration for us without a doubt is the mass of partakers we have, some of whom even come back to volunteer for us. The whole organisation has such a positive energy and we all thrive off each other’s achievements therefore this award going to all of us has highlighted the importance of our work that we do together as a team.
What has the reaction from fellow employees and supporters been since winning the award?
Absolutely overwhelming! The Saturday morning after the awards we started getting some fantastic messages and feedback from various different individuals, organisations and ex participants and it was just very overwhelming for us and truly wonderful. We never even expected to shortlisted and so that was an achievement in itself but to actually win the award was just phenomenal. As you can imagine we are just so proud and excited for things to come and to see how wining this award can help us expand our horizons. We have had lots of people making contact with us via social media offering their congratulations and support for what we do which is absolutely fabulous and it really helps us towards our future. Our reach is absolutely huge we have had people contact us from all over the world which is breathtakingly wonderful! Previously we thought that we would only get as far as Glasgow to connect with people however our reach has massively expanded. To think that worldwide now people can hear of Victory Hants it is just amazing, not only for us but also for the people that we support, for them to be able to see what we do on such a large scale I hope is just as motivational for them as it is for us.
What were your thoughts on the awards? Did you enjoy the night?
Both Brian and Albert had an outstanding time at The Diversity Awards, it was like stepping into another world for Albert which we were of course honoured and delighted to be able to give him that experience. Everybody was so welcoming with warm open arms for both of the gentlemen who attended on our behalf and just the people in the room were so accepting and wonderful. For Albert the awards massively supported his recovery and he felt that it was an extraordinary opportunity for him to attend the awards and it really did bring home for us what our organisation prides itself on. We want each and every one of our participants to experience the feeling that Albert had throughout the duration of the awards, just to feel accepted and most importantly special. Thankyou very much from all of us here at Victory Hants, we are so overwhelmed and excited about new things to come and you will most definitely be hearing from us soon.